Thursday, February 24, 2011

National vs Local Emergency?

My gut feeling is, like I/S at NRT and Rob Guyton stated, is why have we gone to declaring a national emergency level when this tragedy appears to me be a regional / highly localised level?

Rob got slammed by Inv2 of Keeping Stock and quickly, but wrongly I believe, pulled his post. (Some say it is still available via his RSS feed). NRT, as always hard hitting, but you just cannot comment anyway.

Andrew Geddis, via Kiwiblog, some legal beagle or the like, says otherwise, the national declaration being a means of activating an upper layer of bureaucrats to direct traffic and have the ability to release resources from other areas.

I still wonder why this upper level capability is not written into the local level emergency legislation. A national emergency it is not. Something like the well overdue 8m slippage of Alpine Fault, a tsunami hitting the full East Coast, or the Central Plateau erupting via another Taupo would be events worthy of such declaration. Not a highly localised earthquake in my birthplace, the Village of the Damned.

I have not read the fine print and am not a lawyer, but I still support I/S and Bob for having raised the issue.

And to those with their minds on tragic matters, it would pay to remember that everything a politician does is for votes.


robertguyton said...

Yours is a level-headed view PM, a rare thing just now.
I wonder what happened to the 'Gerry' legislation that seemingly allowed Mr Brownlee to call in anything at all with regard the Canterbury earthquake? Has that become null and void?
Perhaps the combination of that and a local state of emergency would be sufficient. Be careful though, where you ask these questions! There are reactive people about!

PM of NZ said...

Reactives, Bob? Bring it on - I could do with more traffic. You see, everything a blogger does is for hits...

Keeping Stock said...

@ PM - I disagree with your closing comment. I doubt that either John Key or Phil Goff gives a shit about votes at the moment. Later on, when the immediate crisis is over, perhaps. But I'm naive enough to believe that sometimes people actually DO do things for the greater good, and that this is one of those times.

Geddis slammed the Key administration over ECAN, so he's not a National lackey. If he. as a legal expert says that the declaration of a state of national emergency was the right thing, I'm not going to argue with him.

For The Record said...

For your info to PM of NZ:

This from a post on kiwiblog that quotes professor Geddis (who spoke out against the original Earthquake bill and the sacking of Ecan) who says that NRT is talking a load of shit.....

Now Professor Geddis has himself been very willing to criticise the Government when he feels they are acting inappropriately with regard to their powers. He criticised the Act responding to the last earthquake and the sacking of ECan. But in this instance he says:

To use a phrase much beloved of I/S himself, I call bullshit.

First up, the declaration of a national state of emergency does not mean that there is now a power to do all the horribly draconian things that he claims can be done in places like Invercargill, Whangarei or other places far from Christchurch. All the powers given under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002 (CDEMA) can only be exercised for the specific purpose of things like “saving life, preventing injury, or rescuing and removing injured or endangered persons”, or “prevent[ing] or limit[ing] the extent of the emergency”.

There is no way that these purposes can be said to exist outside of the immediate environs of Christchurch, so the specter of the police “clos[ing] public spaces in Invercargill” or the like in the wake of this declaration is a complete red herring.

So that puts paid to the so called gross abuse of power. And as for why make it a national state of emergency:

But what about emergency situations where the resources of a single Group are inadequate to respond? There, help from other Groups may be needed. But getting that help requires those in charge of the affected Group to coordinate with those in charge of others, which is yet another task on top of the many they will have already. Furthermore, all they can do is ask for help – which other Groups may or may not be able to give, depending on availability.

However, now that there is a state of national emergency, two things can happen. First, the Director of Civil Defence Emergency Management can take over the coordinating role between different Groups and centralise that process. Second, the Director can instruct other Groups to initiate their own emergency management plans and thus release resources to help Canterbury.

These powers may not be as earth shattering as empowering the police to shut down central Invercargill, but neither are they insignificant. Indeed, it isn’t going overboard to say that the fate of people’s lives may depend on the bureaucratic niceties involved in the declaration of national emergency.

Geddis concludes:

So, like I say – I/S’s posts regrettably are bullshit. I rather fear that he’s fallen victim to exactly the disease he accuses John Key and National of … being so partisan in outlook that everything must have a motive other than the obvious one.

Sometimes even politicians just want to do the right thing.

For The Record said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
PM of NZ said...

FTR - Ta, but have already read KB for that diatribe.

My question remains - Why does the local emergency legislation not have the ability to engage the upper level bureaucrats without declaring a national emergency?

Anonymous said...


Here is the link to it without the Kiwiblog diatribe.

robertguyton said...

For the Record - you quote Geddis thus:
"He criticised the Act responding to the last earthquake and the sacking of ECan"
Does this mean you support his views about the 'Gerry' bill and the Ecan abomination?